Kochi: The children of today are the children of the digital world what with gadgets such as mobile phones, televisions sets and tablets have become indispensable for them. Are these electronic tools double-edged weapons, too? A probe on the question assumes significance in the wake of the Action Plan 2020 of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) Kerala which has among other things listed popularising use of ordinary mobile phones among students while discouraging use of smart phones by them.
"The smart phones has everything required to make one's life modern," says state IAP president Dr M Narayanan. "But they also rob a lot of time which otherwise would have been utilised for studies, outdoor games, social activities or reading books."
Dr Narayanan said several children fail to keep a balance between time spent on mobile phones and other extracurricular activities. "Many are addicted to mobiles," he said. "And the results vary from academic failures, lack of sleep, behavioural issues, pornography, loss of money in electronic games, drug addiction to suicidal tendencies." He said pediatricians and their organisations have been campaigning with students and parents to limit screen time for students limited to less half an hour a day. "We recommend phones without smartphone features," said Dr Narayanan.
Head of the department of pediatrics, General Hospital, Ernakulam, Dr V.D. Anil Kumar said overuse of smart phones could hinder developing of speech, functioning of the brain and development of social behaviour. Their optical vision too will be affected, said Dr Anil Kumar. "Some children turn violent if the parents try to restrict," he said. And the parents are also to blame, he pointed out. "Several parents use it as a babysitter."
Dr Narayanan said a student-safe phone should have features limited to calling, emergency alert and tracking.
According to Sreekumar Kartha, dean and principal, Global Public School, Thiruvaniyoor, Kochi, parents who feel the need to get in touch with the child out of school hours should go for a basic phone. "A child does not require smart device on a day-to-day basis, and any interactions on smart devices must be supervised and well planned out. We do not encourage mobile phone use in school - smartphone or otherwise."
"A smart phone is not necessary for students for studies when the classrooms have become smart classrooms," said Shiny V. Thomas, principal, Global Public School, Cherpu, Thrissur. "Smart phones would come in the way of development of inborn talents and creativity. They would be wasting time on social media or gaming. They wouldn't go for extracurricular activities. They become isolated and grow without emotional feelings and human values. Reading habits too has suffered."
Ms Thomas said parents should not place their children in the comfort zone. "Mobile phones are useful; so buy them an ordinary phone. Parents should also restrict their own use of smart phones to become models for wards."...